Category Archives: Trip Reports

Trip Reports and Photos

Illinois River – April 25-27, 2008


On April 25th, the SOU Whitewater Club launched on the Illinois River with a blistering sun in the sky, promising flows, and four Illinois virgins. In our group we had six SOU students, former SOU student Dan Thurber, and Alan Jones from the Portland area. Amazingly and despite the weather and flows, no one was at the put-in when we arrived. We cruised down to Pine Flat for the night and waited for the sun to go down. Later in the evening, a two boat trip went by and stopped at Pine Flat Right, just around the bend from where we were.

The next morning the sun broke through the few clouds that there were and began to heat up the canyon. It was so warm that I decided to not even throw on a dry suit, a first for me on the Illinois. Right now I kind of wish I had, given the massive sun burn all over my body. Nevertheless, a day like this on the Illinois is hard to come by, so we soaked it in and headed downstream.

At South Bend we stopped for lunch and a breather before Green Wall. Alan hadn’t been down the Illinois yet this year but had heard about the “new” hole at the bottom of Green Wall. I was curious what it would like as well at this flow so we planned to run the entry rapid and eddy out before the first drop. So much for plans. My boat made one of the weakest attempts at catching an eddy that one will ever see, and before I knew it Emilie and I were waiting at the bottom of the rapid. Alan caught the upper eddy, but when moving to a lower one he bumped a rock and headed downstream. We saw him drop through the first part just fine but at the bottom he went into the meat of the hole and was pulled back in for a big surf. He was there for awhile but some how stayed in his boat, which popped out next to the wall and came bouncing into the eddy next to us.

Dan was rowing a stern frame with four paddlers and had caught the eddy with no problems. At this point, the two folks from the two boat trip had walked down the entire entry rapid and had watched my boat miss the eddy, had watched Alan get surfed in the bottom hole, and were now about to watch Dan and his crew nearly get swallowed as well. Dan and his crew had a good line though, caught a little piece of the hole at the bottom, but flushed through just fine. Dan ran back upstream to see if the other trip would like us to hang around which they, after seeing our less-then-ideal runs, thought would be a good idea.

The first cat didn’t make it to the first drop without trouble. He was surfed in a hole in the entry and got separated from his boat. Somehow, he caught it and climbed back in while going over the first drop. His oars were out and he continued downstream as resident high-sider before dropping into the big hole at the bottom. Luckily, Dan was able to snap photos of the run… and cat boater #1 was safe and sound at the bottom of the rapid.















Green Truss Section of the White Salmon – April 4, 2008

A big “thanks” to Ryan Morgan of Molalla, Oregon, for convincing us to do this run. He has an excellent kayaking and photography blog at Also, the SOU Whitewater Club and Outdoor Program helped with equipment, so thank you all! Dan Thurber also has a kayaking blog at that is certainly worth checking out for trip reports and random stories.

A week prior to this trip I called Ryan to see if he would be interested in doing some boating and we tossed around the idea of an Upper Wind trip. Andrew Wilkin, a fellow guide for Idaho River Journeys and Kyle Smith, a guide for Kern River Outfitters, were phsyched to see a new stretch of river and committed to making the drive from Moscow, Idaho. The Wind started to look like it was going to be too low so Ryan came up with Plan B: The Green Truss section of the White Salmon. Although it’s been rafted a handful of times, it is still considered a rare run for rafts but I imagine it will begin to get more popular as more and more folks see video and photographs of this beautiful stretch of river.

There was only one problem with Plan B, and that was the fact that we needed to find one more paddler so that we could have two R2 boats. I couldn’t find anyone in Ashland who was game so I gave the task to Andy and Kyle. A little bit later they called me back and said that they had found someone, Nick, who was up for it. They said that he had “some” boating experience and was excited to join us. That sounded good to me so our Plan B was now Plan A and we were set to go.

We met at Husum Falls on Friday morning. The gauge read just a touch over 2.5 feet. It took some time to get the boats down to the river but it did warm us up a bit which was nice considering the chilly weather. Ryan had been down a few times before so he led the way. We stopped to scout a lot. Bob’s Falls was the first significant drop we came to and Dan Thurber proved that the hole is indeed retentive. He ended up swimming but was able to get to shore with his kayak before the next drop. Shortly after, we came to Big Brother, an intimidating 25 foot waterfall that has a nasty cave river right at the bottom of the drop. For Nick and I, this was a sure portage. After mulling it over a little bit, Smitty and Andy decided to go for it. Ryan dropped in first with a stellar line and shortly after the raft approached the lip and styled the waterfall as well. Dan portaged around the drop and soon we were ready to push off and hit Little Brother, a 14-foot waterfall just downstream.

After styling Big Brother, we were surprised to see Andy and Smitty drop in a wee-bit sideways over Little Brother. Andy popped out and got some serious down time at the base of the falls. He re-emerged shortly and swam to shore with a little bump on his head and a story of getting slammed into the rocks at the base of the falls. After a short break we continued on to Double Drop and the Zig-Zags. Lower Zig Zag presents a serious hazard with two logs, one vertical and one horizontal (a few feet underwater in the left channel), in the main channel. The move to avoid the logs is easy enough but the consequences of swimming are serious. Portaging, however, seemed like a huge task so we buckled up and went for it. Thankfully we didn’t have any problems. There were a few fun rapids between the Zig Zags and BZ Falls but nothing of real consequence. We had made the decision before launching that we were all going to portage BZ Falls due to the cave thing behind the falls that is nasty. Instead of lining or portaging, we just pushed the boats into the current and they ghost-boated themselves with perfect lines over the drop. Kyle and I jumped in after them and got to the take-out shortly after.

After huffing all of our stuff up to the parking lot at BZ Corner and running the shuttle, we sat around and talked about the run. Certainly one of the most beautiful canyons I have seen and the whitewater was great. It was at this point when someone turned to Nick and asked “what was the most difficult stretch of water you had run before today?” He replied “I don’t know, maybe the Grand Ronde in Oregon.” I wouldn’t say that if you have run the Grand Ronde (class II+) you can run the Green Truss, however on April 4th that statement proved true.















Illinois River – March 21-23, 2008


Every time we float the Illinois in March of 2008 on Easter Weekend we have great weather and flows. Every time. It is consistently sunny, normally around the mid-60’s and the flows are just perfect, right around 2,000 CFS. I would venture to say that the best time of year to float the Illinois is in March of 2008 on Easter Weekend.

We left Miami Bar and floated down to Clear Creek for some exploring. It was beautiful. The sun was out and it was spectacular having a chance to look around a little bit more than usual. From Clear Creek, we headed to Pine Flat and stayed there for the night. The fog cover during the night kept temperatures from falling too much, and we had very little frost the following morning. Prior to dinner, we went across the river and did some more exploring.

Pushing off the next morning, we headed down to Klondike Creek for a quick break and “Creatch Bars”. From there it was a straight shot to the pink rock beach thing where we ate lunch and basked in the sun. It was difficult escaping from the sun this weekend and for those of us used to boating throughout the Oregon Winter and early Spring, the sun was just way too intense!

Downstream we hit Prelude and then caught the eddy above the first drop of Green Wall. We got there just in time to watch the last boat in a group ahead of us take an “interesting” line into the big hole at the top and get thoroughly demolished. Luckily, we got video of the spectacular show.

With upright boats at the bottom of Green Wall, we floated to the top of Submarine Hole where we pulled over to quench some thirst and enjoy the sun. We Camped at Mile 22.7 Camp and hiked up part of the ridge for a spectacular view of the river and surrounding mountains.

On Easter Sunday we awoke to some clouds rolling in. It started to drizzle as soon as we pushed off from camp and stayed drizzly all the way to take-out at Oak Flat. We stopped along the way for a scenic view and more Creatch Bars and got to Oak Flat around 12:00ish. In the rain, we decided to pack up and eat lunch elsewhere, which meant a rest stop just outside of Brookings. And that is a story in itself…
















Illinois River – February 22-24, 2008


This trip really started back on January 6th at 2AM at the Beau Club in Ashland, Oregon. Dan Thurber and I had just driven a heinous twelve hours straight from Hoover Dam, having completed a 24-day Grand Canyon trip. We arrived in Ashland tired, dirty, and looking like, well, we had just gotten off a 24-day trip without showering. On a greater level, I had set a new personal record: I had only worn three shirts the entire trip.

We pulled into the Beau Club with a truck full of river mank. A parking spot was in the front, so we had a good view of all our crap from the bar. It was at the bar that we ran into Alissa Sampson and Chris Conrad. Seeing us, they looked horrified but approached with caution. We had done some boating with them the previous year on the North Umpqua. When they asked where we’d been we gave the run-down. Someone mentioned something about “winter boating” and Conrad suggested that it would make a good story. So, I opened my big mouth and said, “Let’s do an Illinois February 22nd.” They said “yes” and I said “ok” and that was the plan. Turns out the water looked good and the people fell in place. We had the river and all was lovely again.

So, the trip…. Some of us stayed in Selma Thursday night and packed while the rest planned to meet at the Rogue River Journeys guide house at 8:30. Scott Fine brought a van and trailer down so we piled all of our stuff and bodies into it and took off around 9:30 AM Friday morning. We had with us: two avon adventurers (Will Volpert and Scott Rion), one Sotar (Scott Fine), one NRS cat (Pete Wallstrom), and three kayaks (Dan Thurber, Ryan Morgan, and Alan Douglas). In total, twelve people, maximum permit size.

Our first day gave no problems. At the flow we were dealing with, most everything is class III with maybe some IV- stuff thrown in. We stopped a lot for photos and video before finding ourselves at Pine Flat for the night. A few took turns running Pine Flat Rapid through the “Boat Eater” while the rest of us took in the beautiful canyon. The night cooled down quickly but a fog enveloped the canyon and prevented temperatures from dropping below freezing. We awoke in the morning to a light layer of fog and some clouds above and got on the water around 10:30ish after a relaxing breakfast.

We stopped above the pink rock beach (a.k.a. “Last Chance”) for lunch and to soak in some sun before hitting the lower gorge. Prelude was fun as always. Next was Green Wall, which at this level I was not expecting to be very large. Everyone caught the eddy just above the first drop and we set up for video and photos. I don’t think I’ve seen Green Wall at a nastier level for rafts. At high flows, the cheat on the left develops. At lower flows, the center slot is easy and the upper hole underdeveloped. At this flow, however, the cheat was closed off just barely for rafts and the hole looked stompy and sticky.

Scott Rion ran first and started the carnage off with a spectacular surf that lasted about two minutes. Leland Fulton, a bow paddler for Scott, got dumped out about half-way through the surf but made a great recovery by grabbing the back of the raft after popping up. Unfortunately for Leland, the raft spun so that he got to enjoy the fruits of the powerful hole all the while being pressed further against the ledge by the boat. Scott pulled him in fairly quickly, a nice rescue mid-surf, and shortly after they were able to muscle out of the hole.

Next up was Pete and he had a great line at the top but ended up a little sideways for the bottom hole. Flushed through fine, however. Scott Fine had the best line of the day at Green Wall. Nevertheless, he still ended up on the floor of his boat when the bottom hole slammed him hard. Last was me. Our photographers jumped in for some paddle-assist action and we pushed off. I thought to myself “let’s just be a little further right than ol’ Scotty Rion.” Well, we definitely ended up too far right and my method of correction failed miserably as the boat dropped perfectly sideways into the steepest part of the upper hole. We surfed for awhile. My left oar popped out so I had to get the spare. Reaching the spare while in the midst of a violent surf wasn’t going as badly as I would have thought… until my head got pinned between the other oar which was still in the lock and the frame of my boat. At this point I began thinking that being a little further left would have been a grand idea and probably well worth the effort. However, with a few twists of my head and an eager desire to free myself, I found the spare, unstuck my head, and was able to pull backwards out of the hole. And then we slammed into the bottom hole which was quite large and moved us to the right where we promptly got slapped by the massive wall. Certainly not what one would call a “clean run” at Green Wall. I could hear the circus music begin to play as I eddied out to fix my rig job and take a breather.

Pushing off, we got to Pimp-Slap (also referred to as “Little Green Wall” or “Big-Mac”). Both Scotts got Pimp-Slapped on the right wall at the bottom. Pete and I avoided the Pimp-Slap by moving left in front of the boulder. Everything else was fun. At this level, not continuous or fast, just fun read and run III+ish until Collier Creek. We camped at the waterfall place. I don’t know what it’s called, I’m sure someone has a name for it but I don’t care. It is at mile or so below Collier Creek Camp. No kegs on this trip, just material for White Russians, which Dan found a liking too and mixed up for people. The next day we were on the water at 10:00 and got to Oak Flat at 11:45. The shuttle took awhile back to Selma but gave us a chance to smell the river stank that echoed off each other’s clothing.























Upper Wind River – February 10, 2008

On Sunday, February 10 Dan, Ryan, Danielle and I hit the Upper Wind river for a great day of rafting / kayaking. I have heard a lot about the Wind and was eager to see what it had to offer. Being in Southern Oregon, it is quite the drive so when I learned that it would be running while I was in Portland, I made sure to put it on my to-do list.

I was running a beat-up 12′ Otter borrowed from the SOU Outdoor Program. We rigged it as an oarboat with a rodeo frame and Danielle was prepared to paddle up front. Ryan and Dan were in their kayaks. Ryan was the only one who had been down before but his memory of the run was shaky. Luckily, the whole thing seemed to be read and run and we cruised along at a great rate. The rapids were a ton of fun, tight and continuous in nature but with places to slow the raft down and maintain control.

At one of the bigger rapids, Dan got stuck in hole in front of me and we nearly ran him over in the raft. Luckily, there was a tight eddy just upstream of the drop on the left that we were able to tuck into. The real trouble, it turned, was getting the boat out of the eddy and lined up for the middle drop. The slot on the left looked not-so-doable so we had to really work to get back center.

Overall, the impression I got from the Wind was that we had seen it at a great starter-level. I would be excited to get on this one again with some healthier flows. I can see how the character of the river would change. Some of those rocks we were sliding between must certainly make some stompin’ holes. At Ramshorn, I can’t imagine what the water does. I am sure it gets real nasty in some places. At the flow we saw, however, this run was mainly IV- with some stout IV+/V- drops.



Illinois River – January 18-19, 2008

This trip report was written by John Meier.


Dave Hagmeier, Philip (my son) and I launched on the Illinois at 1330 Friday 1-18-08 Blue skies and good times down to Klondike Creek for a nippy, no campfire camp. I have no idea what the temperature was but by the time we crawled into the tents around 2000 any water droplets still on the boats had frozen solid.

This is the first time I’ve checked my boat in the morning to find it covered with frost, ice and a little soft due to the cold. Once we put them back in the water they warmed up and expanded back up to pressure. Dave heated some hot water in the morning so I could have a mug of tea. I passed on the tea and put the hot water in my frozen solid river boots. Ahhhhh…..there’s nothing like the smell of steaming river boots in the morning. Oregon river camping in January at it’s finest.

The Green Wall………Yep, it’s still there but according to Dave the “Illinois King” the hole at the bottom has changed. At 1400cfs the hole was deeper, meaner. and a lot nastier than he’s ever seen it. In my book that’s saying a lot since he let it slip to Philip that this run was probably his 40th trip down. Dave ran it first and powered through the hole with a right to left move. I ran it second but wasn’t quite as graceful as Dave. I almost made it out the downriver side of the hole but it grabbed me and sucked me back in. It was the sweetest and deepest auto surf I’ve ever experienced. When I hit the bottom it spun me sideways and spit me back out right into the protruding edge at the bottom of the Green wall. I gracefully fell back into the boat after bouncing on the left tube and eddied out.

Philip ran it next. He had a flawless run through the technical left line at the top. When he hit the hole at the bottom it jerked his right oar out of his hand and spit him sideways into the wall where he promptly did a right tube over the left, side flip. Using the skills he acquired when he earned the nickname Flip back in his IK days he quickly swam back to his upside down cat, got it into an eddy with a little help from Dave and got it re-flipped. No carnage, no yardsale items floating, just a quick flip, swim, re-flip, a few laughs and we were back on the river.

A word to the wise. If you run the Illinois you may want to hike down a little past the normal scout rock and check out the hole at the bottom. I took a picture of Philip as he was lining up for his flip. He was at the bottom of the hole and all you can see in the picture of him and his 12.5′ X 22.5″ Sotar cat is the very tip of his black helmet. No kidding, he is completely gone in the picture except for the top of his helmet. The hole
completely swallowed him, cat and all.

The weather was excellent. Blue skies and no wind. The temps could have been a little higher but I’m not complaining. Two out of three ain’t bad for January boating.

Good times were had by all.

John Meier
Washougal, Wa

Colorado River, Grand Canyon | December 10, 2007 – January 4, 2008

This trip was awesome because – well, it was the Grand Canyon – but mostly because of Keith Bond and his family, Dee, Laura, and Erik. They organized a great trip, took care of food, managed a bunch of people they had barely met, and most of all were great folks. So, a huge thank-you to the Bond family!

I was lucky enough to hear about this trip through an email Keith sent out. I quickly checked my schedule and realized the dates of the trip fit perfectly inside my winter break for school. I called him up, drove to Portland to meet the other folks, and before I knew it I was signed up for a Colorado trip. Over the course of the summer a few of the originals had to bow out, leaving room for me to ask a few buddies to join: Kyle “Smitty” Smith, Andy Wilks, and Dan Thurber. Kyle and Andy are undergrads at the University of Idaho. I work in Idaho on the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Main with Andy. I met Kyle on his first rafting trip (on the MF Salmon) for his highschool graduation trip. Dan and I met in Ashland when we were both going to school at SOU. We lived together for two years and had more boating junk in our small apartment than livable space. But, hey, we have priorities.

Others on the trip were the four Bonds, Alan, Scott, Dan, Sherri, Scott, Ryan, Danielle, and Keith A.

Some of the camps we stayed at:

• Badger
• Upper North Canyon
• South Canyon Camp
• President Harding
• Main Nankoweap
• Tanner
• Grapevine
• Somewhere below Pipeline Creek
• Schist
• Lower Bass
• Upper Blacktail
• Race Track
• Tuckup
• Hualapai Acres
• Indian Canyon
• Upper 220
• Seperation Canyon
• South Cove

Thank you to the Bond family for organizing a spectacular trip and for giving me an opportunity to see the Grand Canyon.